COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – The mayor of Colorado Springs is questioning why a city-owned utility has spent more than $8.3 million over the past five years on outside marketing and public relations firms.

The Gazette reported Monday that Colorado Springs Utilities spent that amount since 2008 on communications firms despite having its own communications staff.

Mayor Steve Bach noted the utility has 21 public affairs employees.

The utility has defended its spending. It says employing outside firms allows it to better answer customer questions on social media and educate residents about water conservation and the proper disposal of household waste, among other services.

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